Illustrator: Daniel Mark Duffy
Grade Level: 2 and Up
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Summary: Molly's Pilgrim is a story about a little Russian girl. She is in the third grade and her classmates laugh and make fun of her English by the way she speaks and her "old country" clothes. Molly really wishes that she could leave America and go back to Russia. Her mother explains to her that a tragic event happened among their people in Russia, and that they would have been harmed too if they did not come to America. Molly feels like she will never fit in with the other children in her class. This all changes when she brings her mother's pilgrim doll to school for the class's Thanksgiving project. It is then that she realizes "it takes all kinds of pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving."
Element 2: This element is all about respect for others. This allows children to understand they are different from one another and can learn to accept their differences. All of Molly's fellow classmates made fun of her because she looked different. They lost respect instantly, not because she was different from them, but because they were not used to her appearance. The values of respect are learned when she brings in her mother's doll because they are impressed by it. The children relate the doll to Thanksgiving. Her classmates realize that it takes all different people in order to make Thanksgiving. They see that Molly really is not so different after all because they all celebrate this holiday the same way, just with different clothes, foods, and traditions. The children all say that her doll is the prettiest and they come to like the way her doll looks and the way that she dresses. Even though people that come straight from Russia may look different, the children learned to appreciate their differences. After this happens, the stereotypical judgments cease to exist. Molly was able to share her knowledge about her cultural background with her classmates, which allowed them to listen with kindness and empathy by using her mother's doll.
Activity: An activity that can be done with this book would be to start off with the teacher reading the book Molly's Pilgrim aloud to the class, students reading to a partner, or students can read in small groups with a volunteer. Each student can draw and design their own doll on paper with colored pencils, markers, or crayons based on their own heritages. They are learning to show what they are thankful for at Thanksgiving, and will be excited to share about their own families that they are thankful for. They can take their time drawing these dolls, and even take them home to get suggestions from their families. When these dolls are completed they can get into small groups or just one by one present to the whole class the doll that they created. They can describe what it is wearing, holding, or eating. This will allow the students to communicate with one another about each one of their cultural backgrounds. This will give them the opportunity to respect each other and listen with kindness and empathy to the experiences of their peers. They will also learn to have respect for one another because they are taking the time to learn about one another. They will be able to deconstruct stereotypes about their peers identities. This will not only get each student excited to talk about themselves, they will be excited to learn about each other and will ultimately learn to have respect for others, which is the main goal of Element 2.